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Attention: Aspiring Software Developers

What I would do if I were You

Please look at my profile. I have been at this for a while. Disney, NASA, Department of Defense, and etc. I have a Liberal Arts education but when I was 20 I decided that I was going to be a software developer. Before the internet, we had to use these $40 things made of paper. We learned to program through sheer will. Schools taught Perl, Pascal, and C++. VB 4 was really meant for Außenseiters and other non-initiated members of the computer science community.

I studied every night. I worked my shitty day job as an AS400 operator and at night I studied. I didn’t just do all the samples in my books. I actually memorized the VB language. Every stinking method and property. After 6 months of studying, I doubled my salary. 5 years later I doubled it again. 10 years later I doubled it again and it’s been quite a trajectory ever since.

This is not the 90’s. It feels like everybody and their dog is trying to learn how to program lately. If my math is correct then 1.11% of the US population makes their living coding which is around 3.6 million people. What other occupation can you make as much as a doctor with a high school degree? What other occupation can a 20 something with the right skillset make over 100k? The blood is in the water and every fish in the sea can smell it but not every fish is cut out to code.

Coders are born not made. I have personally run circles around PhDs and other academics not because I am smarter than they are. I run circles around them because there isn’t anyone you have ever met that will work as hard as I do. You have never met anyone who will work as long as I can. You have never met anyone who hates to lose as much as I do. If we are doing a cryptography related project in the next few weeks I will stay up until 2 am reading Bruce Schneier books on the topic. If there is anything I don’t know about some technology, that I will be using in the near future, then you will find me studying late every night until the day the project starts.

What I would do if I were you, begin your almost pathological obsession with learning web technologies. Let’s be honest here. The vast majority of software developers are not doing computer science. All of you “code ninjas” out there are just doing CRUD screens. CRUD stands for Create, Read, Update and delete and it’s what 99% of every software project ever created is-and-was. Sure there are complications with network segmentation and other entity boundaries but most developers are not writing their own bubble sorts or device drivers. They are giving a user the ability to Create, Read, Update or delete a record that is then moved through some workflow and ultimately put is some report. PERIOD.

Sure you can execute this CRUD task with style using AngularJS over multiple web browsers on a phone or desktop but in the end, it’s ultimately just CRUD. Once you realize this your job of learning how to do this becomes manageable.

1) You’re going to need a base language like JAVA or C# to do the processing and logic.

2) You’re going to need to learn HTML5 because it’s the fabric of the web right?

3) CSS is not optional.

4) You’re going to need to learn some CSS framework like bootstrap because CSS is terrible.

5) Some form of SQL.

6) Knowing some JavaScript Framework will make Javascript suck less.

7) TypeScript is the greatest thing since sliced bread and I absolutely love sliced bread.

8) Create an application that will be your platform to learn with…forever…

9) Learn to add value because without doing this you won’t be able to make this a career.

10)Attend every user group you can find.

11) Find a mentor like me.

That’s it? Well sure knowing Node.js, NPM, Yarn, TFS, RavenDB or some other NoSQL DB, MVC, AJAX, Azure would be nice but I think you could get a gig and learn that along the way. Memorize, use, and practice in a completely pathological and obsessive way and you will kill it. Master all of the above skills and you will make over 100K if you learn to negotiate your salary, contract or hourly rate.

Contact me and I will do my best to walk you through the steps. If the above already describes you then I may already have a job for you…

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